Saturday, November 26, 2011

A French Christmas with Oysters Galore

This year, 2011, will see us celebrating Christmas in France for the second time. Last year was okaaaay. As I recall, we rose late, called family, opened gifts galore, gorged on smoked salmon and eggs, cooked a large dinner that no one wanted to eat - although, of course, we finally managed to force some down at about 6pm. Later we watched some Christmas telly on our very small TV, played card games and went to bed.

One of the best parts of the day for me, was the view out of the window. It looked like this.

Looks like something out of a magazine doesn't it? It was magical. The view is the reason we bought the house - Serious. I call the house my Labour of Love. Because it is.

We usually see our friends who also live in the village, and this year will be no different. For a while we have been threatening to do a curry cook-off, and I think that might actually happen this year, so I will shortly be packing my spices and Indian recipe books to take with me. What fun!

We always throw a nice dinner for our friends too, and for several years we have admired the wooden baskets of oysters from afar, but never cooked them. This year we thought we would get some and serve them to our friends for a starter. This is what I plan to do with them. It's funny talking about packing my recipe books, but with no access to t'interweb, what's a girl to do ? Actually, I secretly love planning my Christmas meals and packing my recipe books, something old stylee about it don't you think ? I also enjoy packing up all those lovely ingredients in anticipation of the delicious meals to come.

This is taken from my newest Christmas recipe book Celebrate Christmas

I plan to serve a 'mixed oyster platter' with a selection of oysters made according to the recipes below.  To accompany this we will drink chilled, dry (sec) bubbly blanquette. Oh yes, and let's not forget a little bit of baguette to soak up the juices. Yummies!

Oysters with bloody mary sauce

24 oysters on the half shell
3tbsp tomato juice
3tsp vodka
1tsp lemon juice
0.5tsp worcestershire sauce
1-2 drops tabasco
1 celery stick
1-2tsp snipped chives

1. Remove the oysters from their shells and set aside. Wash the shells in hot water and pat dry.

2. Combine the juices, vodka, tabasco and worcestershire sauce.

3. Cut the celery stick into julienne strips (eg v.v.thin) and place in the base of the oyster shells.

4. Top with an oyster and drizzle with the tomato mixture. Sprinkle with chopped chives.

Champagne Oysters

*I will use blanquette in place of Champagne, the grapes for which are grown in the vines that surround the village. It would probably be a criminal offence to not use blanquette.

1 French (it had to be didn't it?) shallot, finely chopped
150ml champagne, or sparkling white wine*
150g unsalted butter
2tbsp creme fraiche
2 egg yolks
500g rock salt
24 oysters on the half shell

1. Put the shallot and 125ml of the champagne blanquette in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer until reduced to 1tbsp. Strain into a heatproof bowl, discarding the shallot.

2. Place the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water and whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, until thick and creamy. Remove from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche.

3. Whisk the egg yolks and remaining champagne blanquette in a separate heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water until the mixture forms ribbons when drizzled. Remove from the heat and fold into the butter mixture. Season to taste.

To serve - spread the rock salt on a tray and arrange the oysters on top. Spoon a teaspoon of the champagne (oops! I mean blanquette), mixture onto each oyster and cook under a moderate grill for 1-2 minutes until golden brown.

Finally, recipe 3.

Oysters wtih prosciuttio and balsamic vinegar

24 oysters on the half shell
2-3tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 slices proscitto, each chopped into 4 thin strips

1. Remove the oysters from their shells and set aside. Wash the shells in hot water and pat dry.

2. Replace the oysters and put them on a baking tray.

3. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the oysters and arrange a coil of prosciutto on top.

4. Season with black pepper.

5. Cooked under a hot grill for about 1 minute, or until the prosciutto is starting to crisp.

That's the appetiser prepped, now what to do for the main course ??

Bon Appetit!

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